What exactly are soft skills and how can they help you to secure your next role?

When we’re looking for a job, we’re used to employers demanding a number of skills from candidates that they feel are relevant to the job. 

While we’re probably more used to seeing skills that are directly linked to qualifications and experience, more and more companies are starting to list soft skills as a basic requirement for employment. What exactly are soft skills however and how can they help you to secure your next role? 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are general attributes that aren’t specific to any job or industry. They’re usually self-developed and more often than not, part of our natural personality. They make up a combination of many things including social skills, character traits and employment qualities. 

Because they can be applied to a number of different roles and industries, soft skills are always desirable – no matter what field you’re working in. The list of these skills is almost endless but some of the most common examples include:

  • Leadership 
  • Positive attitude
  • Good work ethic
  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Flexible 
  • Resilience 
  • Good negotiation skills 
  • Time management
  • A team player
  • Confidence
  • Flexibility/adaptability 
  • Working well under pressure

How can soft skills help you to secure a job?

Hard skills are specific abilities which help people to carry out different jobs. For example, having a degree, an industry-specific qualification, speaking a foreign language or being able to code. While these are essential in some industries, soft skills are important for all of them. 

Soft skills are the very traits that enable us to bond with other people in the business and fit in well with the company culture. Without them, even someone with the right qualifications could end up alienating themselves or not having the right mindset to do their job effectively.

They’re also what helps to set us apart from other potential candidates when we look for a new role. Say you and another candidate interview for the same position for example and you both have the same hard skills but you were very personable and positive in your interview, chances are that it’s you who’s going to secure the role. 

Another great advantage of soft skills is that they don’t limit you to working within just one industry. They are transferable skills which allow you to demonstrate your personality and effectiveness to prospective employers - even if you have limited experience in their field.

For example, your excellent communication skills may make you great at selling even if you’ve never had a sales role before. This alone could be enough to encourage a potential employer to give you a chance. 

Although soft skills are usually developed, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be taught. There are a wide range of courses available to help you improve everything from your organisation skills through to public speaking. 

If you would like to discuss soft skills in more detail, please feel free to contact Alpha and one of our consultants will be more than happy to help.